The last time the Ravens hosted the Atlanta Falcons in a regular season game was on November 19, 2006 when they beat their guests 24-10 and improved to 8-2 on the season. Here’s a look back at Aaron Wilson recap of the day, one during which the slowest player on the field sacked the fastest. ~ Tony Lombardi
BALTIMORE — The pivotal moment when stocky Baltimore Ravens nose guard Kelly Gregg bulldogged elusive Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick to the ground meant more than a loss of yards. At least, in Terrell Suggs’ opinion.
The defensive end described the sack as a signal that it wasn’t going to be Vick’s day to confound the Ravens’ defense as they sacked him five times during a 24-10 victory Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium.
“It was letting not only Michael Vick know, but letting the world know that we’re the best second-half team in the world,” Suggs said. “We knew it was going to be a rough day for Atlanta once he did that. The guy runs like a 4.2 in the 40-yard dash, so he’s one of the fastest in the NFL. Once we kept him in the pocket, he had a hard time making plays.”
With defensive end Trevor Pryce sacking him twice and cornerback Samari Rolle corraling him on a blitz, the Ravens kept Vick contained for the most part.
Vick rushed for 54 yards on six carries, but was hit for 45 yards of losses as the Ravens allowed a season-low 82 net yards passing and the third-fewest yards (182) of total offense this season. The passing yardage is the fourth-fewest allowed in franchise history.
“You try to spy, you change it up,” linebacker Adalius Thomas said. “We want to put pressure on his face. We definitely did.”
The Ravens accomplished this feat despite not having seven-time All-Pro middle linebacker Ray Lewis for the second consecutive game with a severely bruised back.
Vick completed just 11 of 21 passes for 127 yards with a 13-yard touchdown pass to Michael Jenkins behind Rolle.
“It was a tough day,” Vick said. “We knew what we were up against, a team with a great defense and there’s a lot of superstars on their side of the field.
“They provide a lot of pressure. I think that’s the thing they take pride in, especially without their leader on the field.”
FILLING IN THE GAPS: Converted outside linebacker Jarret Johnson made his starting debut at inside linebacker in Lewis’ absence.
The 6-foot-3, 270-pounder looked comfortable at Bart Scott’s usual inside linebacker spot with Scott sliding over to occupy Lewis’ position in the middle.
“I was a little nervous at first, but after the first two plays, I felt great,” said Johnson, who was credited with one tackle. “I’m ready to fill in as long as they need me to until Ray gets back.”
Added Suggs: “Double-J is vital to this team. He’s filling some big shoes and doing a good job of handling it.”
CHESTER DEBUT: With right guard Keydrick Vincent out with a groin injury, rookie Chris Chester made his first NFL start. He helped block for Jamal Lewis’ three touchdown runs as quarterback Steve McNair was sacked only two times.
“I was very nervous, but as a group we kind of support one another and it helps,” said Chester, a second-round selection out of Oklahoma. “They were kind of dumb rookie mistakes that I shouldn’t have made, but as the game progressed, I got more and more comfortable and got in a groove.”
CODY DEBUT: It was an extremely long wait for outside linebacker Dan Cody to play in his first NFL game Sunday. He missed his entire rookie season last year with a torn anterior cruciate ligament and was inactive for the first nine games of this season. The former second-round draft pick from Oklahoma played on special teams and generated pressure as a situational pass rusher.
“I just wanted to be sure I was under control and make as few mistakes as possible and not give them any reasons to take me off the roster,” said Cody, who registered one tackle. “When I first got to the locker room, I was nervous because I was sitting around.
“I was surprised how quickly it went, especially rehabbing during the course of everything. I think on the second kickoff I had a real great hit, so that was a good way to get it started.”
STOVER MISSES: Matt Stover broke his NFL-best run of 36 consecutive field goals when he misfired from 42 yards wide left in the first quarter. It marked his first miss since the seventh game of last season when he bounced a 44-yarder off the right upright in Pittsburgh. Stover was pursuing the NFL record held by Mike Vanderjagt, who once converted 42 straight for the Indianapolis Colts.
“The quality of a good kicker, I guess you’ve got to have a short memory,” said Stover, who rebounded to hit a 29-yarder. “You’ve got to forget it real quick and move on to the next one as quickly as you can. I’ll start another streak. It’s not a bad thing as long as you win the ballgame.
“Everybody went, ‘Oh man, Stover missed. What’s going on here?’ I like that. People have that kind of confidence in me, and I’m grateful for that. I hate missing field goals.”
TRAINING ROOM: Tight end Daniel Wilcox was the lone injury reported by team officials as he left the game with a sore right hamstring. “I feel like crap,” Wilcox said. “I don’t know how bad it is because I’m not a doctor.”
TRANSACTIONS: The Ravens placed linebacker Mike Smith (shoulder) on injured reserve, ending his season. Offensive guard Ikechuku Ndukwe was promoted to the active roster from the practice squad.
QUICK HITS: An Atlanta native, Jamal Lewis dominated his hometown team. “I think I’ve got bragging rights for a good year now,” he said…The Ravens deactivated cornerbacks David Pittman and Derrick Martin, running backs P.J. Daniels and Cory Ross, Ray Lewis, Vincent, wide receiver Devard Darling and defensive tackle Dwan Edwards. …The Falcons were without injured defensive ends John Abraham and Patrick Kerney, former Ravens linebacker Ed Hartwell along with cornerbacks Jason Webster and Jimmy Williams…The win marks the 75th of Ravens coach Brian Billick’s career, his 70th in the regular season…The Ravens improved to 3-1 against the NFC South this year…B.J. Sams’ 121 punt return yards are the third-most in Ravens franchise history behind Jermaine Lewis (184 and 173), and his 212 total return yards are the second-most allowed by Atlanta in franchise history…This is the first time this season the Ravens haven’t recorded an interception…The Ravens’ annual food drive raised $17,500 and 1,150 pounds of food to benefit the Maryland Food Bank.